Skeletal records of massive Porites lutea
corals sampled from reefs around Malaysia have previously shown average decadal declines in growth rates associated with sea warming. However, there was a variability in growth declines between sites that warrant the need for investigations into more site-specific variations. This study analyzed decade-long (December 2004–November 2014) annual growth records (annual linear extension rate, skeletal bulk density, calcification rate) reconstructed from five massive P. lutea
colonies from Pulau Tinggi, Malaysia. Significant non-linear changes in inter-annual trends of linear extension and calcification rates were found, with notable decreases that corresponded to the 2010 El Niño thermal stress episode and a pan-tropical mass coral bleaching event. Coral linear extension and calcification were observed to return to pre-2010 rates by 2012, suggesting the post-stress recovery of P. lutea
corals at the study site within 2 years. Although no long-term declines in linear extension and calcification rates were detected, a linear decrease in annual skeletal bulk density by ≈9.5% over the 10-year study period was found. This suggests that although coral calcification rates are retained, the skeletal integrity of P. lutea
corals may be compromised with potential implications for the strength of the overall reef carbonate framework. The correlation of coral calcification rates with sea surface temperature also demonstrated site-specific thermal threshold at 29 °C, which is comparable to the regional thermal threshold previously found for the Thai-Malay Peninsula.
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